Man’s 39-kilometer Skydive Could Help Science

December 15, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. monitor (v.) [mon-i-ter] – to watch or check continuously for a certain period of time
Example: The nurse monitored my condition during my stay in the hospital.

2. vital signs (n.) [vahyt-l sahyn] – measurements that show whether a person is alive or healthy
Example: The doctor checked the patient’s vital signs to see if he was sick or not.

3. acceleration (n.) [ak-sel-uh-rey-shuh n] – the increase in a person’s or object’s speed or movement
Example: Sports cars have excellent acceleration. Some can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds.

4. strap (v.) [strap] – to tie or attach one thing to another
Example: Drivers must strap on their safety belts before starting their cars.

5. extreme (adj.) [ik-streem] – very different from the normal; harsh or dangerous
Example: Some adventurers who went to the Antarctic had difficulty travelling because of the extreme weather.

Read the text below.

Last October, 43-year-old skydiver Felix Baumgartner from Austria made the highest skydive in history. He was the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound. But Baumgartner’s jump did not only create new world records. Data collected during his skydive could also help scientific research.

British company Hidalgo created the equipment used to monitor Baumgartner’s vital signs as he jumped from an aircraft 39 kilometers above the Earth.

The equipment, called “Equivital LifeMonitor,” measures a person’s vital signs, such as heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, and acceleration. The equipment weighs 38 grams and is strapped onto the user’s chest.

Red Bull Stratos, the name of Baumgartner’s skydiving project and team, chose Equivital out of a wide range of monitoring systems because it met Red Bull athletes’ need for a monitoring system that could work in extreme environments.

Andy Walsh, director at Red Bull Stratos, says Baumgartner’s jump is the first time data on a human traveling at supersonic speed, greater than the speed of sound has been recorded.

Information taken from the historic jump will be analyzed by the Red Bull Stratos’ medical team and Hidalgo. The data will then be shared with researchers all over the world, including scientists from NASA.

According to Red Bull Stratos, the data could be helpful in developing emergency escape systems for astronauts in space.

Hidalgo’s chief executive, Anmol Sood, says his company is most interested in seeing how data taken from Baumgartner’s jump could benefit aerospace medicine and sports science.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Is it necessary for humans to test the limits of what they can do? Why or why not?
·         Can you share an experience in which you did something you thought you could not do?
Discussion B

·         What is your opinion of extreme sports (skydiving, bungee-jumping, rock climbing, surfing, auto racing, etc.)? Are they worth doing? Please explain your answer.
·         Why do you think many people are interested in doing dangerous or risky activities?


December 15, 2012